Ah HA!

I think Ive got things figured out.

First - file changes showing up across branches. As I suspected, its a
conceptual understanding issue
helps a lot.

Second - building different branches - this was a procedural
misunderstanding. I have been able to modify the Working directory
contents (for building) by making a new branch from the desired branch
and using the reset option. So some use of the reset option is needed
to "reset" the working directory to the files I am building. obviously
making a new branch with reset because I wish to build a maintenance
branch, for example, is pretty clunky. But it does give me a clue
which direction to go in.

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